Recent Research on Chromium Supplements: Some Work and Some Don't
In a recent Dutch study, researchers gave either a placebo or a daily dose of 400 micrograms of chromium in the form of chromium yeast to 57 obese, insulin-requiring type 2 patients with A1c’s above eight percent.
After three months and again after six months, they found no difference between the two groups with regard to fasting blood glucose, A1c’s, blood pressure, body fat, weight, cholesterol, or insulin resistance. They concluded that in Western patients, chromium yeast does not improve blood sugar control, possibly because their diet is already sufficiently rich in the mineral.
The researchers added, however, that in non-Western populations who might be deficient in the mineral, such supplementation may be useful. Previous studies of Chinese and Indian populations have shown that chromium supplementation does help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar.
A more recent study, evaluating the effects of chromium picolinate plus biotin, showed that this compound does improve blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes. The study, which examined 447 overweight to obese patients with A1c’s of at least seven percent, demonstrated that a chromium picolinate and biotin formula significantly lowered A1c levels and improved glycemic control.
All patients in the ninety-day study, which was randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled, were already being treated with oral anti-diabetic medication. The greatest improvement occurred in patients with baseline A1c levels equal to or greater than ten percent, who saw an A1c decrease of 1.76 points.
Our own pharmacy expert, Dr. John White, notes that individuals with diabetes, especially those with cardiovascular disease, have lower chromium levels than non-diabetic people. Dr. White reports that over ten small studies have evaluated the effects of chromium picolinate on glucose metabolism and blood fats in people with diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance, and in people without diabetes.
In most of these studies, an increase in HDL (healthy cholesterol), an increase in the effectiveness of insulin, a reduction in triglyceride fats, and a reduction of glucose were observed. Doses of up to 1000 micrograms per day for as long as 64 months produced no toxic effects.
Dr. White concludes that a reasonable supplemental dose is probably 400 micrograms per day, but advises a conversation with your physician and pharmacist prior to starting your dose, as you could potentially experience hypoglycemia and require an adjustment of your diabetes medications. If you’d prefer to get your chromium picolinate from food, good sources are whole grains, green beans, broccoli, processed meats, and bran cereals.
Source: Diabetes Care, May 2007
Dr. John White